We are living in some crazy times. The headlines can be very discouraging to the devout. Suddenly, it seems we are living in a parallel universe where all reality is subjective and objective truth is passé. If it seems like I am talking gibberish, it’s because all the headlines these days are just that: gibberish. I don’t need to go into details because everyone has an opinion and next thing you know, the conversation dives south. I digress. We are one week into the change of season and I think it’s a great time to change up our habits and routines so that we can experience the gift of happiness that Christ offers. Based on the Beatitudes, I have compiled a list of resources that help me when the world gets me down.
1. Be poor in Spirit: Jesus loved using paradoxes almost as much as he loved parables. He must like it when we cogitate. Here we’re asked to take a path to happiness via humility: recognizing your total dependence on God. I find if I give Him my first moments of the day, then the rest of the day becomes His and I enjoy the day more. It does not mean that the day is easier and free from trial. Rather, it means that I am ready to roll with the punches because I am aware that He’s there to support me and the kingdom of heaven is mine. My go to morning resource is a little daily devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.* When you have a longer time for reading and reflection, I recommend the Magnificat. There, you can access the Word of God according to the liturgical calendar and be lifted in spirit by the some of the most inspired writings of priests, sisters, theologians, mystics, and saints of all time.
2. Be meek: Being meek is such a radical happiness concept. To be meek is less about how we feel internally and more about how we behave. For me the best way to express meekness is to be forgiving. Holding a grudge is the best way to zap your happy. It is an expression of pride which is the opposite of being meek. We all do it, everyday. Ask yourself, who am I mad at today? Make a decision to forgive others as we want to be forgiven. Remember, you will inherit the earth! My go to resource is the confessional. It’s free! Check your church schedule and go at least once per month. Then you can do like Elsa and let it go. I’m sorry if that song is now stuck in your head; better that than a big, stinking hunk of grudge.
3. Be mournful: Who said what? How does this make us happy? Slow down. Breath. The kind of mourning Christ is referring to is sadness for what makes him sad. Be heartbroken by hate. Be woebegone by godlessness. Be crestfallen by consumerism. Let the tears flow. It’s cathartic. My go to resource for mournful contemplation is listening to the music of Audrey Assad. Create an Audrey Assad playlist and let the sorrow for the sins of this world seep into your soul. Start with I Shall Not Want. Find your spirit surprisingly comforted when you allow yourself to be free from the fraudulent joy of worldly pleasures. Keep your spirit keen to what matters by adding Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, and Hillsong UNITED to your playlist. Let these artists provide the soundtrack to your daily duties. When I want to join my suffering to Christ in a pro-active and contemplative way, I practice SoulCore. It’s a contemporary core workout that pairs the rosary with exercise.
4. Be hungry for justice. To be happy we must be hungry and thirsty? More paradox. The key here is to only be satisfied by Christ. I find that by suffering physically, I increase my awareness of what really matters in this world. My go to resource for being hungry and thirsty for justice is abstaining and or fasting. Offer up a favorite indulgence for a specific just cause. Again, it’s free! If you want to go hungry with style, try substituting one or two daily meals with a raw vegan meal. Yes, I said it. Raw vegan. Summer is the best time to change up your diet. And what better way is there than to add fresh fruits and vegetables. I like fullyrawkristina. She has some wonderful ideas. And, this way, no one has to know you are fasting or abstaining. So it can be just between you and God, as it should be. In the process you may develop a good habit and recognize how much you were depending upon comfort foods to satisfy the hunger which can only be satisfied by Christ.
I hope this little list inspires some positive changes in your routine to lift your worn spirit- not so that you can just go on your merry way without a care in the world; but, rather, so that you can find strength and refreshment to persevere in the journey and battles ahead.
What will you do this summer to get closer to God?
Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you. God alone satisfies. ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas
*[I was apprehensive when I first read the devotional, Jesus Calling, because it is written by a non-catholic woman who believes Jesus was talking to her. She recorded her inspirations and created a daily devotional. However, a trusted confessor assured me that he had read the devotional cover to cover and that all that is written in the book is consistent with the Word of God and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.]